Raymond Tanter

As the nuclear talks resume on February 18, the major powers should realize that in a deadly game of hide and seek, the Iranian regime cheats and retreats. Doing so results in a process of inspections, sanctions, and negotiations. But this process would not have begun without being triggered by revelations of an Iranian resistance group that rejects clerical rule.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote, “The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revelations about Iran’s secret nuclear program did prove to be the trigger point in inviting the [International Atomic Agency] IAEA into Tehran for inspections...”

On August 14, 2002, the U.S. media representative of the NCRI revealed an underground secret site under construction near Natanz. A month later the IAEA asked to visit the site during October. That December, the Institute of Science and International Security (ISIS) showed satellite images of Natanz, and the IAEA visit took place in February 2003. The IAEA found the site—designed for use of undeclared centrifuge machines to enrich uranium gas.

Upon visiting related sites during 2003, the IAEA found traces of highly enriched uranium. Because of delays in inspections, however, Tehran had opportunity and time to raze entire sites and remove tell-tale signs of nuclear enrichment in the soil. When there was insufficient time, Tehran closed down nuclear activities and retreated from its cheating.

U.S. diplomatic support for Iranian dissidents in Iraq who have revealed Tehran’s cheating is insurance to coerce Iran to comply with its commitments to the Geneva accord of November 2013. And sanctions contingent on Iran meeting its obligations incurred in the accord are necessary to motivate Tehran to negotiate in good faith.

Iran’s verifiable compliance depends on access to “all source” intelligence, which requires human sources not as available to Washington as electronic methods. Iranian dissidents in Iraq, members of the NCRI, have a track record providing intelligence to the international community, some of which has been independently validated.

Without pressure on Baghdad and Tehran for Iranian dissidents to leave Iraq, there are bound to be additional assaults against them and erosion of their intelligence capability.

Raymond Tanter

Raymond Tanter served on the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. His latest book is "Arab Rebels and Iranian Dissidents."